There was no catching 6-year-old Belvoir Bay (GB) in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint Saturday — the speedy mare scrapped for the lead out of the gate and never looked back, setting a track record as she fended off stablemate Om by 1 1/4 lengths. The Peter Miller-trained Belvoir Bay was making her first Breeders' Cup appearance when she crossed the wire in :54.83 for the five furlongs, beating the previous track record of :55.06 set by rival Eddie Haskell, who was also in the field.
Miller also trains Stormy Liberal, who was in the previous two editions of the race and looking for a third victory Saturday.
“She's just a tough filly,” Miller said afterwards. “She's just so tough. I was telling everyone all week that she ran second to Blue Point and Blue Point would be even money in this race. She got no respect. I don't know what they were thinking, but Mr. Barber had confidence and he bet with both hands.
“Om ran awesome. Stormy Liberal is not quite the horse he was the last two years, but he was right there. He ran his butt off. And then Om, I can't say enough about how great he ran. To get his head down for second and run one-two in this race again after doing it two years ago is just phenomenal. I felt good at the eighth pole. I felt real good at the wire.”
Jockey Javier Castellano was aboard the mare for the first time.
The result surprised bettors, paying $31.06 to win. Om finished second, prevailing in a photo over Shekky Shebaz. Favored Pure Sensation was fifth.
Belvoir Bay's win was the first for a female in the Turf Sprint since Mizdirection in 2013.
Gary Barber owns Belvoir Bay, who came to the race after a fourth-place finish in the G1 Jaipur, where she finished behind Om.
Barber made a point of inviting the barn team into the winner's circle to celebrate the little mare's win.
“A lot of people at Santa Anita, I wanted to share the moment with them during the Breeders' Cup,” said Barber. “They take care of us. And also the people who — the grooms who walk the horses inside. I made the decision before, if I was lucky enough, invite as many of those people and not to lead the horses in, I wanted the grooms who live with them night and day, I wanted them to lead the horses in.”
Her previous credits this year include a win in the Wishing Well and second-place finishes in the G3 Monrovia and the G1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan. Miller sent Belvoir Bay to the race after a five-month layoff and said he followed a similar program to get her back to the races as he had with Stormy Liberal, who also came back from a five-month layoff before his win in the 2017 Turf Sprint.
Belvoir Bay is one of the survivors of the wildfire that engulfed San Luis Rey Downs. Barber remembered getting a phone call from Miller during the blaze as he frantically raced to the training center to try to save his horses. Belvoir Bay was one of several Miller trainees who was set free and remained unaccounted for for several days before being located and identified in someone else's barn. She spent two weeks at San Luis Rey Downs Equine Clinic receiving hyperbaric oxygen treatments and recovering from injuries she incurred during her escape from the blaze.
Miller was one in a group of first responders honored with a Special Eclipse Award for their heroic efforts to save Thoroughbreds during the San Luis Rey fire.
Bred in Great Britain by Mrs. R. D. Peacock, Belvoir Bay is the daughter of Equiano (FR) and Rock of Girbralter (IRE) mare Path of Peace (GB).
She was sold as a yearling at Tattersalls October by Manor House Stud for $33,401 and was purchased by Peter & Ross Doyle Bloodstock. She also went through the auction ring at last year's Fasig-Tipton November auction, where Bluewater consigned her for Team Valor and Barber. Justin Casse signed the ticket there for $625,000. Bill Mott had trained the mare, who started her career in England, under her previous ownership.
Belvoir Bay is once again entered in the Fasig-Tipton November Sale, which will take place next week.
Complete order of finish was Belvoir Bay, Om, Shekky Shebaz, Stubbins, Pure Sensation, Imprimis, Leinster, Stormy Liberal, Final Frontier, Totally Boss, Eddie Haskell, Legends of War.
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